DDCAP, a different approach

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DDCAP, a different approach

Postby LCARS24 » Sat Jul 21, 2012 5:57 am

DDCAP (Daylight Disc Converged Aim Photography) is an unusual UFO research project based on taking a neutral stance, setting aside all evidence and assumptions, as well as the notion that some questions are best unanswered, and basically going for the throat: using dedicated software to control a group of three cameras such that when so much as one pixel is out of place in the image of one camera and remains so for at least a quarter-second, it is suspected of being a hovering object, in which case the other two cameras are ordered to pan and tilt to 40 degrees elevation along the detecting camera’s line of sight then trace that line upward until the object is captured by all three cameras (or give up if it's nothing but a bug on the first camera's lens, etc.) then zoom and start recording, each on its local connected computer (for best recording speed) and stamping time and pan/tilt data on a data bar attached below each image.

Once in operation it should capture helicopters and hot-air balloons, all of which can be viewed in real time on the project’s Web site, which doesn’t even exist yet, and people who have so requested and live in the area can be notified that a target has been acquired so they can look up and try to spot it. All of this is fully automated, and it’s up to humans to view the images and judge the nature of any object so captured.

The software will be free and open-source, and participants will pay nothing to join the project but must live near an edge of a target area (an 8-km square grid). Each must own a video camera with a computer-controllable motorized pan/tilt head, must agree to have the camera outside on days with good weather, and there must be three participants per target area. If something truly strange is ever captured by three cameras, participants should file FOIA requests for FAA and weather radar data. If there are ever any royalties, they will be shared in four-way split (camera owners and software developer[s]).

The project’s rules are basically no cheating, everything open and aboveboard, and no hint of scams (there is no fee to participate). The recommended spirit of the project is Katrine’s rule: “Leave the war outside,” which in this case means stay out of the fight and let the chips fall where they may.

One additional rule is to not publicize any images of helicopters hoisting cows or anything that appears to be a military secret (they would appear in real time but not be shown in the gallery of objects captured to date, and shouldn’t be hovering over these particular target areas, anyway, making this issue extremely unlikely to arise).

Most of these rules, including real-time display on the Web, plus the radar data are for defense against denial when and if anything truly unknown is captured. But until and unless that happens, anyone on the negative side should be delighted to see nothing but ordinary objects photographed in such a manner above a so-called UFO hotspot.
The beatings will continue until morale improves.
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Re: DDCAP, a different approach

Postby James Carlson » Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:42 pm

It's an imaginative idea, I'll give you that. I don't think it would work, however, unless you automated the process a lot more than you have here. The reasons for ultimate failure depend on personality types.

Skeptics would soon grow tired of examining mosquitoes, moths, yellow-jackets, and flies. Helicopters, planes, and seeds drifting on the breeze would very quickly grow tiresome, and within three months, their profound belief that the time spent looking at these things, in addition to every dust-mite drifting by, is a complete waste of effort, tarnishing thereby any initial charms the project may have engendered. This would soon result in abandoned equipment and intentions. The motivation to look for something that doesn't exist must be tempered with a more reasonable approach to the issues.

In other words, if you didn't pay them, they would cease operations and spearhead efforts to get more sleep.

UFO proponents, on the other hand, have proven only one thing in the past sixty years of interest that applies to this issue: they don't require proof, and they refuse almost entirely to attempt any appropriate confirmation of cases presented. It's perfectly reasonable to assume under these conditions, that they lack the motivation necessary to follow the rules you've established above. They'll never stick to it long enough to provide a suitable database of observations, let alone one that would provide any evidence necessary to justify belief. That's why 99% of the "evidence" they've managed to collect thus far is nothing but folk-tales (the ever-present "eyewitness" reports) and poorly recounted legends that aren't even associated with this subject they only think they understand (as in Chariots of the Gods, the Great Pyramid, Stonehenge, the Mahabharata, flaming chariots or some other load of tripe they've categorized wrongly as a result of their inability to educate themselves). And talking about you-tube isn't even worth the effort -- it's faith resolved as frustration with folly.

This isn't the first time a project like the one you've outlined has been proposed. Basically, a program of this sort could easily be a good idea -- there's little that's technically wrong with it, and on the basis of knowledge and value alone, any database resulting from such an achievement would have an intrinsic value of great potential. But it will never work as a UFO research project. Those who have faith in the whole UFO scenario don't need it and are too lazy to provide it for those who need convincing. That's an obvious conclusion in light of their refusal to even attempt a confirmation of claims made the past 30-years or so, and their obsessive reliance on cases from the 1950s through the late 1970s. And those skeptical of the UFO scenario believe just as strongly that a project of this sort would be a waste of their time. If you want them to get on board, you'll have to persuade them to do it. And the quality of that persuasion will have to increase each and every month that NOTHING is accomplished beyond what they already expect.

You should look for another application of the results desired, providing thereby another motivation entirely for those conducting this kind of research in the field -- a reasonable one that has absolutely nothing to do with UFOs. This would increase substantially any hopes you might have for gathering and maintaining an extensive database with the value necessary to reach viable conclusions. In the 1990s, the United States Navy was trying to determine civilian-based, dual uses for a number of programs that were being "phased out" or significantly cut back for insufficient funds. They wanted to keep them running, because many were still useful at some level, even though the cost was believed to outweigh any actual value. By applying this "philosophy" of dual uses, the cost could be augmented with non-military funding. For example, the Navy has had a program in effect since the 1950s that collects sound data on a live-time basis. This was accomplished by use of hydrophones -- a passive "listening" system -- laid out on the ocean floor at strategic points in both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans. By monitoring the sound data, we were able to track submarines of all types, as well as surface craft and (in some cases) aircraft. By using deep sound channels in the oceans, we could very often detect and track submarines that were a thousand or more nautical miles from the hydrophone arrays. This system had reached a point of serious underfunding, but was still useful in many ways. With dual use consideration, additional funds could be applied, but only if the such uses could be established with real-time goals. The hydrophone systems, therefore, were used to collect data sufficient to provide "proof" that they could track specific ships believed to be associated with the transport of drugs, providing, thereby, a service related to drug interdiction. In additon, data related to specific whale migrations was collected, a huge database that could provide a previously unknown tool for biological research. The Navy was merely using a military system to collect data that could be used for other purposes.

In my opinion, you need to come up with a dual uses philosophy for your proposal, because I think if you put it forward as a UFO research project, you won't be able to get any of the data you want that will allow you to reach any viable, useful conclusions.
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Re: DDCAP, a different approach

Postby astrophotographer » Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:49 pm

I like the idea but I think you will have trouble getting participants. Amateur astronomers might find it interesting but they are more interested in bright fireballs rathar than flashes of light. I really don't see many UFOlogists investing any money or time on this. Not enough "wow!" and too much work. I just don't have the time with all my hobbies but I will be interested in how this pans out. Good luck but you may have trouble getting participants.
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Re: DDCAP, a different approach

Postby LCARS24 » Sun Jul 22, 2012 2:31 am

Thanks for the input.

About bugs, birds, planes, etc. I did mention in the OP that action doesn’t start until the software has made a judgment that something new in the scene is hovering, thereby ignoring most birds, bugs, and planes. The program also ignores clouds. Something on the lens of one camera could cause it to do a search, but that would soon be judged by the control program to be a false alarm if the other two cameras could not find it when searching along the first camera’s line of sight. Training all three cameras on a target is only possible if it’s bigger than a Buick and hovering, since the minimum distance between two cameras is mile or so. (I mentioned that they were to be located near the perimeter of an 8-kilometer square grid; that grid is drawn according to the camera positions such that one is on the perimeter and the other two are just inside if not on.)

When discussing UFO sightings or photography, people often point out that you can’t judge size and distance from one vantage point. That’s why this system requires three cameras some distance apart, images from which one can calculate size of the object and distance, since the focal length and exact location of each camera will be known, as well as the azimuth and elevation. Each frame will be accompanied by two other frames shot simultaneously from other angles, each with a data stamp at the bottom. It might take the second set of frames or one per second at maximum resolution then drop back to video resolution for most of the frames. I don’t know about that yet, but it’s an idea. Also, the usual advice of trying to get some references into the frame doesn’t apply when photographing something in the sky simultaneously with three cameras and providing the data I’ve mentioned.

And this system is fully automated with the exception of setting up the cameras and registering their locations and orientations with the control program. There are two programs. One computer will have a copy of DDCAP-C (control) and the three computers connected to cameras will have DDCAP-L (local).

And yes, getting participants won’t be easy. Each target area requires three of them that live close to it, and each must be willing to do the setup and dedicate a camera, head, and computer to the task and have the camera outdoors in good weather and at other times indoors or somehow protected. But other than that, it’s fully automated other than for people to look at whatever it catches, which shouldn’t be much, since the best UFO hotspots are restricted areas.

Some scientists and others have fantasized about trying this with Askania Cinetheodolites, which use 35-mm film, shoot one frame per second, and stamp tracking data on the left side of each image, but they’re expensive, the film is expensive, and the labor cost is astronomical. Besides, skilled operators said it was nearly impossible for three of them to coordinate fast enough to simultaneously capture one unexpected target unless it decided to pose for them. DDCAP, however, requires relatively cheap equipment participants should already own, consumes no film, and does the work of aiming three cameras as fast as the motorized heads can turn them. So within a few seconds a hovering object is caught red-handed, zoomed, and triangulated.

Other uses? It will be open-source. If governments want to modify it to monitor for attempted helicopter prison breaks, etc. yeah, whatever. Really, nothing comes to mind. Tornado spotting? I don't know.
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Re: DDCAP, a different approach

Postby LCARS24 » Fri Aug 10, 2012 12:18 am

With this program a screenshot doesn’t mean much, since all it’s supposed to do is control cameras, but here’s a shot, anyway, of the control program at the point in a simulation of having achieved alignment of all three cameras. In actual use this is where the cameras would all be zoomed and the three local computers ordered to start recording. The ovals don’t represent the actual image. This control program only receives x and y coordinates of what the local computers have detected on their images, which mean nothing until confirmed to be visible from all three camera positions and determined to be a sizable hovering object to be photographed from three angles. That's for speed, so the cameras can be trained on the culprit quickly.

http://i299.photobucket.com/albums/mm309/LCARS24/DDCAP-control.png

There are still many features to program and debug, but the core tech works. One camera detects, and the other two swing around, follow the line of sight of the detecting camera, and all center, zoom, and record automatically. Then humans can decide from the photos and tracking data if it’s swamp gas.

And about dual use, I mentioned in the OP the rule about helicopters and cows. The control program can be used as a demo to show that the system works, but it can’t do the real thing without the local program that goes on the three computers connected to the cameras. Restricting distribution of that program is necessary to prevent use of the system for investigating cattle mutilation. Because of that, dual use has to be restricted. Catching poachers in Africa is fne, but free dual use might lead to trouble.
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Re: DDCAP, a different approach

Postby LCARS24 » Mon Oct 01, 2012 6:11 pm

This project has just become a lot easier. The best camera for the job, surprisingly, sells for $50 or less (used, so no longer expensive even though it has computer-controllable motorized pan, tilt, and zoom and for this purpose is just as good as the expensive current model), and the new version of the program requires only two of them and only one location, albeit within 2 km of a UFO hotspot and with a big back yard (so the cameras can be at least 20 meters apart). It also requires only one dedicated computer, which speeds data transfer, since both programs are integrated into one. Once a target is detected, adjusting the aim of both cameras if necessary plus zooming takes only a second. And just in case a user tries to perpetrate a hoax claiming capture of a UFO with this software, each frame will have embedded code that can be checked with a dedicated verification program.

I made a demo version that just generates demonstration targets and shows how the software reacts but also lets you control it a bit in steps, because in AUTO mode it's pretty fast. And the viewport is the actual size of output from the cameras I mentioned that used to be the latest and greatest but are now very cheap used.

Here's a download link for the demo version of this software:

http://lcars24.com/DDCAP.zip
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